Nigeria, Seychelles ink BASA deal, Abuja holds talks with US over ‘Open Skies’

Nigeria and Seychelles have signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA). The pact would allow flight services between the two nations.

This came as the Ministry has also had discussions on how to further implement the open skies Agreement, signed 30 years ago, with the United States of America.

Sirika

The approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the Memorandum, signing, and ratification of the Air Service agreement between the two nations was formally ratified.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, speaking at the ongoing International Civil Aviation Negotiation (ICAN) event holding in Abuja led officials of the Ministry to sign the Bilateral Air Services Agreement ( BASA) while the Republic of Seychelles Minister of Transport, Mr. Anthony Derjacques, signed on behalf of his country.

Spokesman for the Minister, Dr. James Odaudu said during the ceremony, the two Ministers underscored the importance of the BASA as it will promote air services and connectivity between both countries, enhance business, and promote tourism.

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They both agreed that the signing would further promote the African Union Agenda 2063 and called on citizens of both countries to latch on to the opportunities of the BASA for their mutual benefit.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Aviation has either signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and initial Air Services Agreement (ASA) with Senegal, Benin Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Finland, Cameroon, Morocco, Suriname, India, Sudan, and Uganda.

Each time the issue of BASA comes up, what comes to the minds of Nigeria is the lop-sidedness of the deal tilting against the country. Nigeria is said to have BASAs with over 58 nations.

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Some of them have been activated while others are yet to be. In all of these, the country is at the receiving end, occasioned by its lack of capacity by the indigenous airlines to service these agreements.

Nigerian carriers are considered very weak and fragmented. They are not only weak in terms of operations, but they are very small in terms of resources.

Put together, all the scheduled airlines do not have up to 50 aircraft in their fleet to operate successfully and profitably on the African continent.

Their presence pales into insignificance when you put them side-by-side with Africa’s biggest airlines that have up to 100 airplanes, including some of the latest aircraft such as Dreamliner and A350. 

Even South Africa Airways (SAA) which has seen its fortune plummet in a couple of years is still regarded as stronger than all Nigerian airlines put together. Kenya Airways, despite a dip in fortune and backed by state support, is still a force to be reckoned with.

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But Nigerian carriers are bogged down by so many factors. Chiefs among them are scarcity of foreign exchange to run their operations, high taxation, and customs duty, among others. Nigeria’s revenue drive is being undercut by about N110 billion annually, which it loses to its BASA with foreign nations that have their airlines operating in the country. 

Wole Shadare